Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thorn – or a study in why I might not be suited to knit a sweater on size 2 needles

This might just be the first post of several about what is likely a retirement knitting project.

Progress photo from January of 2012, off and running...

I will preface this post by saying that I really, really love small gauge knits, and the fine fabrics that are the result.  I like the way they fit, especially when the garment has some shaping and I love the fact that they are harder to identify as "home made" to the naked eye.

I am smitten by Kim Hargreaves patterns and have been for the last several years and I have actually cast on two other sweaters which I have also yet to finish.  For the record, not finishing these is about me, not her. (Both are small gauge knits, and the resultant garment is bound to be fantastic, if only I could re-commit.) I think I cast on for this in December/January this last year.  In my minds eye, I would have this all beautifully finished and assembled to be worn this fall (like now...) with grey/black skirt, shirt, tights and boots combo.  I thought this Granny Smith green would work really well with slate grey and black. (Things are always so much neater and timelier in my mind.)

Enter reality.  I'm beginning to think that I don't really possess the attention span to knit myself a fine gauge sweater.  Which is so sad.  But here is some proof.  In 11 months, I've only completed about 30% of the knitting.  I've finished the back and just cast on the left front.  And it really is a pleasant thing to knit, but it's taking me FOREVER.  The pattern for whatever reason - although not terribly complicated - is just detailed enough that I cannot seem to switch into cruise control. 

I also have this "oh-look-something-shiny" reaction to new knitting/sewing/anything creative projects. Kind of like the squirrel in Over the Hedge. (I just checked in Ravelry and there are at least 8 projects that I have started and finished since I cast on this sweater... looking more and more like ADD.)

The other wrinkle in the works for this sweater is my knitting mistake... which is not so terrible that it means the sweater will be the wrong size or shape, but is the type of mistake that is repeated about 1,639 times over.  It turns out that I don't knit eyelets correctly.  I make tiny, twisted eyelets, which don't really look like eyelets at all.  This lovely vertical zigzag pattern that you see running up the back, front and sleeves of the sweater, is created with eyelets.  Ugh.

Artfully placed leaves and acorn
(probably means I think too much
about these blog photos)

But I'm marshaling on.  And I've made the executive decision to not rip out the entire back of the sweater and start over because that would mean that I would have to wait another five years to see this finished instead of the additional two (assuming that I continue knitting this at the same rate).  Who knows maybe I'll be struck by a wave of productiveness and focus and I'll motor through the rest of this.

Hope springs eternal.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Soak Mitts – Cuff au Lait

Once I had the opportunity to take a class from Fiona Ellis.  She's lovely and incredibly talented and a funny and engaging teacher.  In that class she spoke to us about an upcoming project that she was working on with Lorna's Laces (yarn company) and Soak (wool wash experts).

It turns out that Fiona likes to match her knitted accessories to her nail polish. She then brought out four pattern samples of fingerless mitts that she had designed.  The plan was for Soak and Lorna's Laces and Fiona to design and package a "Soak Box" pattern, yarn and scented soak product with a nail polish that matched the yarn.  I'm not usually drawn in by nail polish, since I only ever wear it on my toes, but because I got to try these mitts on, I was hooked.

Cuff half finished

The pattern and color that I've started here is the Cuff au Lait.  It looks like a pot of smoky grey mixed with coffee with cream and then net result is one of the loveliest and unique neutral colors.  The pattern is really special too.  It features a fold over cuff that you actually knit half of, join in the round and the turn inside-out to continue down the hand.  It's really clever.

What I remember about the other patterns is that they all had some really unique feature as well.  The magenta mitts have a cabled pattern and the thumb hole come right out of a crossed cable intersection.  The pale pink mitts have that cable transition to i-cord that is one of those brilliant Fiona signature design elements.  And the turquoise lace mitts have an eyelet line that ends up bordering the thumb gusset.  I'm a sucker for perfect details, and these mitts have those in spades.

It's been a fun and quick project and I hope to have them finished and blocked for you to see soon.  I might actually paint my nails for the photo shoot.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Thanksgiving Dress

Months ago I purchased a new dress pattern for the small fry.  It is the School Photo Dress by Oliver + S.  At the same time I bought my first ever Liberty of London print with this pattern in mind.  I cut the pieces out right away and they sat waiting patiently for me to actually start sewing them together.

Patiently waiting...
I had to actually commit to finishing this dress for our girl in time for Thanksgiving to force myself to make time for it.  And it turned out so, so well. All the credit goes to the genius behind the pattern writing at Oliver + S.  I cannot say enough good things about the way the patterns are written and the little pointers that they provide to enable a novice-ish seamstress to create a nicely finished product.

Nearly finished

A few of the dress details are particularly nice. The inset kangaroo pocket in the front is so fun, and although the print hides it, it is a really neat little detail.  It will be perfect for collecting acorns or little toys.  The other thing I love about the dress is this little funnel neck, or stand up collar.  It feels like an adult garment's tailored detail and it adds charm to the whole piece.  (For those thinking about making this, check the pattern out on the link above.  This is one view of the dress, the other option has a ruffled neck and ruched sleeves.)

Pockets for friends, or rocks, or acorns, or...

The fabric is lovely too. I have a personal penchant for navy blue and I am smitten by the little splashes of turquoise, pink, green and red in this print.  It washed and pressed really well and I hope that it will wear well too. All that being said, I think if I were to make this again, I might choose a solid color. There are some nice details in this pattern that are well camouflaged by this busy print.  The yoke is a nice detail.  The sleeves have a bias cut cuff and the pocket without the animals sticking out is almost indiscernible. And they would definitely be more evident in a lighter color or a solid.

I wish I had time to knit up a quick little sweater to go over this, but that might be a bit ambitious in two weeks time.  In the meantime, I'll try to find some red Mary Janes for her to wear and some tights to keep those little legs warm.  And I need to sew in the hook at the zipper and a button on the back of the collar.  Hope your Thanksgiving day plans are coming together too.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Grand Central in Chicago

Those lovely girls I met in New Hampshire this summer, the ones who inspired me to start this blog... met me in Chicago last weekend.  We decided after leaving New Hampshire that we didn't want to wait a whole twelve months before being together again.  So we gathered in the windy city for a long weekend that happened to coincide with a Vogue Knitting event.

And here's what I learned.  Chicago still remains a fantastic city.  It falls a little short as a "retreat" destination when compared to the peace and seclusion of Squam Lake, but it was wonderful in the way that Chicago always is – the "L", State Street bustle, Millennium Park, Lake Michigan and Garrett's popcorn.  But the best part of the trip was truly the people. We had a great time and picked up right where we left off.  (We missed the few of the original crew who couldn't join us...)

While we were there, we decided to do our own little knit along.

We're knitting darling-Natalie Selles' Grand Central cowl.  And most of us are using some amazing Jill Draper yarn.  Fantastic combination of pretty and easy to remember pattern (well written too) with perfectly plied and gorgeously dyed super wash wool.  They were also our Squam connection at the Vogue event, as they were together in a booth at marketplace in all their creative glory.
Grand Central Cowl

Perfect Caramel Color

I finished this gem in less than a week.  And I think you should start one too.  And it's just decided to be chilly fall here in the "Lou"... perfect timing.

Fake smile for the knit picture – cheesy